This article was written by Adam Hatch - UC Berkeley graduate, son of a teacher, brother of a teacher, and a teacher himself. Adam started a unique English school in Taipei, Taiwan, where kids learn to research and write articles in English. The articles are published on the first ever English newspaper written by kids in Taiwan, called the Taipei Teen Tribune.
DO YOU WANT TO WRITE FOR BORED TEACHERS? SEND YOUR SUBMISSION TO: BLOG@BOREDTEACHERS.COM!
In an era of decreasing education budgets and demonization of public schools, teachers, and unions, we are taking lots of the heat for a lack of results from students. We know, however, that our influence as educators is relatively limited compared to yours.
You are the original teachers of our students, and your attitudes towards education, learning, and school are going to rub off on your kids. As such, the quality of our days is dependent on your leadership at home. In other words, we need you to get it together - we need your help. Let’s start with these five important steps:
1. Stop making excuses for your kids
Everyone makes mistakes, especially kids. However, education is built on being able to make mistakes and then face the consequences of them. That is the heart of learning. So, when your kids are late, or they don’t finish their homework, or they cop an attitude in class, avoid covering for them. Let them learn.
As a matter of fact, go the extra step and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions. We can teach your kids reading and math and science, but you have the opportunity to teach them values and responsibility. When your kids get in trouble, let it happen, and let them learn. It might be uncomfortable for a moment, but in the end, those are valuable experiences for your children.
2. Make sure they're doing their work
If kids had a choice of what to eat for dinner every night, they’d probably pick ice cream, nutritional value be damned. The same is true of doing homework - it’s usually not much fun, it takes time, and many students are faced with a choice of diving into TV or video games versus getting their homework done. So how do kids ever manage to turn homework in on time?
The answer is good parenting. Just like it’s a parent’s job to make sure kids don’t subsist on a diet of candy and breakfast cereal, it is also within the parental purview to know what assignments students need to finish and to make sure they get done. Yes, your students need to learn responsibility, but they learn the value of being responsible through knowing their parents are involved. So, please, make sure your kids do their homework. For us and them.
3. Cut the distractions
Simply put, video games are the bane of every teacher’s existence. TVs, iPads, and the Devil incarnate that is the smartphone - all of these compete against critical developmental activities like in-person socialization, outdoor exercise, and most importantly, reading books. Help teachers out by cutting them out of your kids’ day-to-day activities.
This isn’t to say students should never touch an iPad, but like fast food, too much is ultimately toxic. Keep TV to an hour a day or less, after schoolwork and reading are finished. Limit video games to the weekend or vacations. And while smartphones are a little more complicated, because they do have obvious benefits, make sure kids don’t have them filled with distracting games and pay attention to their text messaging. In lieu of video games, iPads, etc., give students books and sign them up for activities where they aren’t buried in a screen all day. They’ll have plenty of time for that in the future.
4. Model good habits at home
Like we mentioned, kids learn from parents first and they learn from parents most. Thus, what you do, your kids will do. If you never pick up a book, never ask about homework, and watch TV at every meal, your kids will act the same. But the converse is also true - if you read before bed, talk about what happened at school, and put the screens down in the evening, your kids will follow your lead.
We cannot overstate how important this is. Parents who are engaged, concerned, and aware create students who are also engaged, interested, and attentive. Please help every teacher your kids will ever have by modeling the kind of behavior and attitude you expect your children to display at school.
5. Work with their teachers, not against them
Finally, be on our side. We are obviously not in education because we expect to become millionaires, we’re here because we care about kids and our society. We are not an obstacle to the success of your students, and supporting your children, both intellectually and emotionally, is the highest of our priorities.
If we give your student a bad grade, don’t accuse us of being bullies - that is meant to inform you that your student needs to make some changes. If we say something in class you disagree with, instead of accusing us of not knowing what we’re talking about and calling for our jobs, try to understand what we said and the context in which we included it in our lessons.
Ultimately, we are on your side because we are both on the side of students. If you help us, your kids stand to be so much better off than if you ignore their schooling or become the “difficult” parent for us. So let’s help each other, and let’s do the best for the kids we love.